Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/17/14

The defending NL East champions are in a bad place right now. Since the All-Star Break, the Washington Nationals are 2-7, with both of their wins coming on walkoff homers. Furthermore, all nine of those games have come in the friendly confines of Nationals Park, *really* not a good look for a team trying desperately to get back in the playoff race. The Nats are now 50-54, and 8.5 games behind the first place Braves in the NL East.  After Friday's doubleheader with the Mets, which the two teams split, the team optioned reliever Drew Storen to AAA. On the surface, this doesn't seem like a huge deal. After all, Storen has a 5.95 ERA in 42 1/3 innings this season. But Storen is striking out a career high 9.14 batters per nine innings, and he really hasn't been as bad as his ERA indicates.  But there's a little more to it than that. Before the Nationals got pounded 11-0 by the Mets in game one of the doubleheader, Washington manager Davey Johnson said that Storen had the flu and wouldn't be available. That didn't stop Johnson from inserting Storen into the ninth inning of game one, with the Nats already trailing 6-0. Storen then proceeded to give up three runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning, along with allowing both of the runners he inherited to score. He didn't throw one four seamer, and got pounded by New York's offense.  After the doubleheader concluded, Washington reliever Tyler Clippard unloaded in the clubhouse while speaking with reporters, focusing on the team's offseason signing of closer Rafael Soriano. Clippard on Storen: "You send a guy a message this offseason, for one bad game, that he isn't the guy for the job. ..." — Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) July 27, 2013 More Clippard on Storen: "I think this had been handled very poorly by the organization." — Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) July 27, 2013 This is really not good. As Nationals beat writer Adam Kilgore later pointed out, it's not a good sign for an organization that prides itself on player development to have both Storen and Danny Espinosa hanging out in AAA.  Tom Schad of MLB.com had some more quotes from Clippard. I can understand, you know, after the devastation that happened last year, maybe trying to make a change and say, hey, we’re going to bring in somebody that we think can get it done in that big situation. It’s just the wrong message to send, I think. This is a franchise in disarray after just a year ago, it looked like they'd be contending year in and year out. And now, heading into the trade deadline after just the second playoff appearance in Expos/Nationals history, they're firmly out of the playoff picture and sniping at management in the media. This won't end well for anyone involved...except maybe the Braves, who are cruising to their first division title since 2005. [follow]

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